Category Archives: Roman Catholic Church
One of the most perverted, murderous, butchers of all the christian religious sects. Responsible for the mass murder of millions of innocent people during the Inquisitions, the slaughter of Native Americans and of course, the pervert priests who rape children and their bishops and pope who cover their asses and cover this up.
Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to Pay for Failure to Report Abuse
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League states the following: Crimes of a sexual nature need not be reported to the police, just the legal department
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League states the following: Crimes of a sexual nature need not be reported to the police, just the legal department
Bill Donohue is at it again, defending the indefensible and claiming that crimes of a sexual nature need not be reported to the police, just the legal department. This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Bill Donohue will willing violate FEDERAL AND STATE LAWS that say YOU MUST report these crimes to the police. In his latest diatribe in defense of Lafayette Bishop Michael Jarrell for not publishing the names of priests accused of a sexual offense in The Advertiser on August 23, 2014. This is the article:
Kudos to Lafayette Bishop Michael Jarrell for not publishing the names of priests accused of a sexual offense. His decision is identical to the one that the leaders of every other institution, public and private, have long come to: It is unethical to do so. Why should the Catholic Church be any different?
A reporter came to my office a few years ago asking me about this issue. Specifically, she asked how I could defend a bishop for not posting the names of accused priests on his diocesan website. I immediately asked for her boss’ name and phone number. She wanted to know why. “Because I am going to report you for sexually harassing me, and then I want to see if your name is going to be posted on the website of your cable news employer.”
She got the point.
I am the CEO of the Catholic League. If someone called me making an accusation against one of my staff members, I can assure you I would not call the cops. No employer would. I would do the same as everyone else: I would conduct my own internal investigation, and would only go to the authorities if I thought the charge was authentic.
There is a profound difference among an accusation, a credible accusation, a substantiated accusation and a finding of guilt. The assumption behind all three levels of accusations is that the accused is innocent, yet this seems not to matter much anymore, especially when the accused is a priest.
The leader of a professional victims’ group maintains that we need to know the names of the credibly accused priests in Lafayette so that parents can protect their children. Nonsense.
Of the 15 priests, seven are dead, five have moved away, and three are retired. None is in ministry. Moreover, all the accusations stem from alleged offenses dating back prior to 1984. In short, it is more than hype to suggest that kids are in danger — it is expressly demagogic, designed to whip up public sentiment against priests.
What is really sickening about this issue is that so many decent and innocent priests have had their reputations ruined by vicious accusers who remain anonymous. No one demands that we make public the names of the accusers, but somehow we are all supposed to know the identity of the accused.
Correction: Only when it comes to priests are demands made to publish the names of the accused.
The New York Times has a business ethics policy that reads, “Any employee who becomes aware of any conduct that he or she believes to be prohibited by this Policy or a violation of the law … is expected to promptly report the facts forming the basis of that belief or knowledge to any supervisor of the legal department.”
In other words, crimes of a sexual nature need not be reported to the police, just the legal department. If this policy is good for reporters, why isn’t it good for bishops? The best part of the Times’ policy says that those who make false accusations are subject “to discipline up to and including termination.” The bishops should adopt this policy immediately.
I am so proud of Bishop Jarrell for acting fairly and courageously.
— Bill Donohue is the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League again shoves his foot so far down his throat, he can wiggle his toes out his bunghole to say hi
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League again shoves his foot so far down his throat, he can wiggle his toes out his bunghole to say hi
Why yes, Billy Bob sure does love defending the indefensible, shoving his foot so far down his throat this time, that he can wiggle his toes out of his bunghole and say hi….and also proves once again, by his posting
ARCHBISHOP CARLSON HAS BEEN FRAMED
Catalyst July/August Issue 2014
According to attorney Jeffrey Anderson, Commonweal, and other media outlets, the transcript of the exchange between Anderson and Archbishop Carlson revealed that the archbishop did not know it was a crime for an adult to have sex with a child. They are all wrong.
Prior to the controversial exchange (which began with a question regarding mandatory reporting laws—see pp. 108-09 of the transcript), Anderson asked Carlson several questions about Tom Adamson (a homosexual priest who had sex with teenage males). Carlson said, “I remember he was accused of sexual abuse. That’s the trial I participated in.” (See p. 34.) Having said as much, it is simply impossible to believe that Carlson did not know it was against the law for an adult to have sex with a minor.
Anderson also asked, “And you also knew when first degree criminal sexual conduct is written and recorded, that is the most serious of the sex crimes against a child. You know that?” To which Carlson said, “Correct.” (See pp. 98-99.) This is further proof that Carlson knew what the law was; this was also said prior to the controversial exchange.
After the exchange in question, Anderson asked Carlson, “But you knew a priest touching the genitals of a kid to be a crime; did you not?” Carlson answered, “Yes.” (See p. 145.)
Further exculpatory proof can be found on pp. 17, 23, 34, 74, 113, 114, 115, and 132. On eight different occasions Carlson restated to Anderson that he told relatives of the victims to go to the police. He wouldn’t have done so unless he knew a crime may have been committed.
From Bill’s own piehole:
“Having said as much, it is simply impossible to believe that Carlson did not know it was against the law for an adult to have sex with a minor.”
But Billy Bob…that is exactly what he said you douchebag:
Anderson: “Archbishop, you knew it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a kid.”
Carlson: “I’m not sure I knew whether it was a crime or not. I understand today it’s a crime.”
Anderson: “When did you first discern it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a kid?”
Carlson: “I don’t remember.”
Anderson: “When did you first discern that it was a crime for a priest to engage in sex with a kid who he had under his control?”
Carlson: “I don’t remember that either.”
Anderson: “Do you have any doubt in your mind that you knew that in the ’70s?”
Carlson: “I don’t remember if I did or didn’t.”
Anderson: “In 1984, you are a bishop, an auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. You knew it was a crime then, right?”
Carlson: “I’m not sure if I did or didn’t.”
AGAIN BILLY BOB, THANK YOU FOR PROVING WHAT A COMPLETE AND UTTER DOUCHEBAG YOU ARE AND PROVING THE FACTS THAT ARCHBISHOP ROBERT CARLSON IS A FREAKING TWO FACED LIAR AND A PEDOPHILE PIMP FOR COVERING UP THE RAPISTS OF CHILDREN.
BROTHERS FROM HELL; 10 former Artane Boys Tell of Broken Legs, Torture and Sex Abuse.
The Mirror (UK) September 23, 1999
TODAY 10 former Artane boys tell JILLY BEATTIE their stories of life at the notorious Industrial School.
Six of them have made allegations to the Gardai as part of Ireland’s biggest child abuse investigation in which 40 Christian Brothers Christian Brothers: see John Baptist de la Salle, Saint. have been named and accused. The other four intend to do the same.
They all say their lives have been destroyed by their experiences under the guardianship of the Brothers at Artane, citing relationship breakdowns, unemployment and clinical depression as some of the problems they have had.
Two of the survivors never married, the marriages of seven broke down and one is still married.
Of the eight who did marry, only two told their wives about the abuse they suffered, and none of their children knows about their past life in Artane.
All the fathers say they have difficult relationships with their children.
Four have tried to commit suicide, four are long-term unemployed and all 10 are currently receiving counselling.
These survivors are among 250 men seeking justice for the sexual, physical and emotional abuse they claim they suffered at Artane at the hands of Christian Brothers.
In care from eight months after being conceived outside marriage
I WAS beaten and raped by nine different Brothers.
Joseph O’Connor dragged me to his room and he threw sweets on the floor. When I bent to pick them up he pulled my trousers down and thrashed me with the leather cosh.
I squealed and screamed and he kept on hitting me, all over my body and head. I suppose he stopped hitting me when I passed out.
My mother came to see me during that time and she was told I was being treated for TB and couldn’t be seen.
I still wake up screaming in the night, convinced a Brother is trying to get me, trying to drag me away.
The Christian Brothers have to pay for what they did to us as boys.
They have apologised to anyone who was hurt while at Artane but that’s not enough to let me get on with my life.
Sent to Atane with his brother for mitching school
THE day Artane burned down I thanked God. I prayed that all the Brothers who hurt me had died but most of those b*****ds are still alive.
I suffered all sorts of abuse. Most of it I still cannot talk about.
They raped me, they beat me, they humiliated me.
Sometimes when you turned up they would be abusing some other boy and you would have to watch or join in.
We were made to crawl To search the Internet for hosts, Web pages or blogs. See crawler. on our hands and knees while the other boys were forced to hit you. If they didn’t hit you, they had to get down and start crawling too.
Artane was a concentration camp. Anything we arrived with was taken away from us – clothes, shoes, love, good memories, happiness and trust.
Sent to Atane for the theft of an overcoat
I WAS a tearaway as a child and eventually the Guards got sick of hauling me up and I was put into Artane.
I ran away three times after being beaten but the Guards brought me back.
After the first time I was beaten around the dormitory. I had my two front teeth knocked out and my wrist was broken.
Then I had to sit in agony as the barber – one of the boys – shaved my head for running away.
Anyone found talking to me was beaten.
I know there were boys raped and interfered with in Artane, but I never was.
The Brothers picked their victims well and chose the most vulnerable.
When I was older they used me to abuse the younger boys. They made me a monitor and I used to beat the boys too.
The Brothers were evil. They enjoyed the violence they meted out. Their favourite weapons were fear and the leather strap.
Sent to Artane for mitching school
I WAS always a quiet child and was labelled stupid because I had dyslexia
I used to mitch school because I was teased. Then I was sent to Artane.
It was the worst thing anyone could have done to me. I was the perfect victim of the abuse the Brothers favoured. I spoke to no-one.
I was raped three months after I was moved to Artane and used by three particular Brothers, one of whom, Brother O’Connor, is dead.
I was like a rag doll. They threw me about the place. I was b*****ed, forced to touch the Brothers, masturbate them and have oral sex.
When I was sick I was beaten and kicked. The sexual abuse was indescribable, but it was worse when it was coupled with physical abuse. I ended up in the infirmary seven times during my three years there.
My wife knows – but I still find it hard to hug and love her. No-one deserved what we got.
In care from three years after mother deemed unfit unfit to look after him
I HAD no-one to turn to when I needed to get away from Artane. I was put in there because the authorities said my mother couldn’t look after me and my brothers.
I was b*****ed 18 times in Artane and beaten probably every day I was there.
In the summer when some of the other boys had gone to foster families, I was left with the others and that’s when I suffered most abuse.
One night I was made to strip before I was hit and a Brother stood on my hands so I couldn’t move. The beating was started by one Brother and finished by another.
O’Connor was a depraved de·praved b*****d. He was at Artane from 1930 and he did everything he could to inflict as much pain as he could on the boys.
He ran the band and even appeared on an RTE programme dedicated to his so-called good work. That bastard sat and smiled his way through it. I dread to think how many boys’ lives he ruined. He destroyed me.
Sent to Atane with his brother for mitching school
I HAD both my arms broken by a Brother.
I still don’t know Don’t know what I did wrong but I was told not to be bold or I would suffer for it.
Then he lashed into me, I was 11. He hit me with the leather strap, then he started punching and kicking me.
I fell to the floor and he kicked me with his boots. I stopped screaming and he kept hitting me for a bit. Then he told me to pray for forgiveness.
He told me I was bad and would have to ask Jesus to stop me being bad. Two boys took me to the infirmary.
On the way another Brother said I should never be bold because God can see everything. I was terrified
If the Brothers did this to me, what would God do?
Put in care after the death of his mother and suicide of his father
I WAS separated from my brothers and sisters and sent to Artane.
Joseph O’Connor met me at Connolly Station and pushed me into a car. He ran the band and when I said I’d never been interested in music he stopped the car, dragged me out and thrashed me.
When I arrived at the school it was four days before Christmas. One of the boys in my dormitory told me we would be safe for the day. I later realised this meant that we were less likely to be sexually abused on December 25.
Joe Boy O’Connor was an evil bastard. He never raped me but he beat me until I fainted one day. When I woke up I was in the infirmary.
One day I was flogged by another Brother and made to wear a singlet which had been soaked in salt water. I believe it was to literally add salt to my wounds and make it more painful for me.
Sent to Artane for mitching school
MY earliest sex education was being forced to watch two younger boys masturbating a Christian Brother.
Then I was forced to beat them before I was fondled by the same Brother.
This happened for five nights with 10 different boys and me looking on every time.
I was never b*****ed but I know two boys who were. I was made to give a number of the Brothers oral sex.
Today I am a gay man but I’ve had problems forming relationships. I still wonder, if my first sexual experiences had been with a woman, would my life have been different.
I think the Brothers at Artane were gay and used the boys for their sexual desires.
We were abused. There’s no excuse for what they did. They violated us – continually.
The beatings were incredible. And the shaming was awful.
In care from 10 after mother died
I ended up at Artane after my mother died. I was heartbroken but sure the Brothers would understand and look after me.
I had a terrible shock. The first time I was caught crying on my second night I was beaten by the Brother in charge.
I wet myself and was beaten more. I cried and had my head pushed into a drawer and was thrashed from behind. He only stopped beating me when I couldn’t cry any more.
We were constantly told we were worthless.
I grew up quickly and realised that the beatings and the sexual abuse would not stop until the day I walked out of the doors forever.
I ran away twice and was brought back by the Guards. The first time I was beaten and had my head shaved. The second time it was worse.
I was told I was an ungrateful, worthless little b*****d. I was told I had no-one who loved me and that I would learn to appreciate the care the Brothers showed me. Then I was beaten again.
In care from six years after mother deemed a violent alcoholic
I HAD suffered violence from my mother and father at home and was glad to get out of the house to be looked after by the Brothers in Artane.
I’d heard they were tough but I thought it had to be better than at home. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I was first raped when I was 12 and I lost count of the times it happened again. Every day was spent trying to avoid being hit, but it was useless.
There was the odd decent enough Brother who tried to keep me from trouble but I’ve since been told the ones I thought were OK were b*****ds to some of the other boys. Maybe they just liked me.
Boys were dragged from their beds at night, we were beaten in full view of other staff and boys and we were sexually abused in front of other boys too.
NOTE: After a three year Garda investigation and a further 7 year legal process, ONE Christian Brother was convicted of indecent assault in Artane.
A life unlived: 35 years of slavery in a Magdalene Laundry
One woman tells the story of her mother who was sent to a Laundry in Dublin at the age of 16 – and died there at the age of 51.
Sep 30 1:00 PM
THE TREATMENT OF women incarcerated in Magdalene Laundries – and the level of State involvement in these Church-run institutions – has been highlighted yet again this month. There was disappointment among survivors and relatives of those kept in the Laundries when it was announced that a State committee’s final report into the matter would be delayed until the end of the year.
To reiterate the urgency of revealing the inter-departmental findings, the Justice for Magdalene advocacy group last week distributed some redacted statements of women detailing their lives in such institutions. (The group claims that there was State involvement in the operation of the Laundries as places to send women considered to be “problem girls”, due to poverty or pregnancy outside marriage for example.)
Samantha Long’s mother Margaret Bullen was placed in Gloucester Street (now Sean McDermott Street) Laundry c.1967 and died 35 years later, never having been released into society and her own home. Margaret died of an illness known as Goodpasture Syndrome, a disease of the kidneys and liver – one of the causes is exposure to industrial-strength chemicals such as those used in the Laundries.
Samantha made a lengthy statement to the interdepartmental committee, led by Senator Martin McAleese, about her mother’s life. Margaret Bullen had a tragic start in life: she was born in a mental institution in Grangegorman, Dublin to a mother who already had six children, Margaret being the youngest. Margaret was sent home to Kimmage to live with her siblings and father, where she remained until she was three years old. At that point, Margaret’s brother was sent to Artane industrial school and Margaret and her sister closest to her in age sent to the notorious High Park industrial school and Laundry in Drumcondra. That, as Samantha says of her mother, “was the end of her and the outside world”.
A second statement sent to Senator McAleese’s committee from a former Laundry inmate who remembers Margaret and her sister recounts how Margaret suffered fits as a young child but that they were ignored by the nuns there (then known as the Sisters of Charity of Refuge, now the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity).
Margaret appears to have been moved in her early teens to a special school called St Teresa’s in Blackrock, after she was certified mentally unfit for education, but fit for work. Her daughter Samantha says in her own statement:
She was assessed at age thirteen as being mentally challenged because on the day that they measured her, they said that she had an IQ of fifty, which I dispute after meeting her, even after all those years of institutionalisation.. And I think that if you’re hungry and tired from your slavery, your IQ wouldn’t be very sharp, or your skills on any given moment mightn’t be sharp. You would be probably just pulled into this room – “now we’re going to measure your IQ” – so even the shock of that wouldn’t, you know, you could shut down.
At roughly the age of 16, Margaret was sent to the Magdalene Laundry at Gloucester Street. The exact time and circumstances of her move there are not clear because Samantha and her sister are still waiting on full records to be supplied to them on their mother’s past.
She became pregnant – twice – with Samantha and her twin sister Etta, and later with another daughter, while officially under the care of the Gloucester Street nuns. The circumstances of these conceptions are again shrouded in mystery but Samantha says her conversations in later life with her mother when they were reunited led her to believe that Margaret had been the victim of sexual abuse and predators several times.
There was no education, no education and I, you know, I honestly believe for a long time she didn’t know how she got pregnant, she just knew that somebody hurt her once and then she had babies. I really believe that. She didn’t make that connection, I know that for sure. She was no, she didn’t have a boyfriend, let’s put it that way. And that’s the politest way that I can say that.
Some of the more harrowing details of Samantha’s testimony recount how her mother was denied society, education, wages and other basic rights for most of her life. This extract recalls Samantha and Etta’s first meeting with Margaret in the Gresham Hotel when they were 23 and had traced her as their biological mother. (Samantha and Etta were adopted by a loving couple in Dublin and later moved to Sligo in childhood.)
Margaret was only 42 at the time but looked much older. She was carrying a handbag but it was completely empty, because she didn’t own anything nor did she have any money. Samantha recalls:
And, she was just lovely, and she was asking extremely innocent questions like, she, it was the first time she ever had coffee and it was very exciting for her to have coffee and she hadn’t seen brown sugar before either and obviously in the Gresham there was brown and white sugar cubes on the table and it was all very fancy to her. And she was just overjoyed to be there and absolutely wowed by everything.
She looked, she looked like a pensioner. I couldn’t believe she was forty-two, I kept looking, I kept looking into her face to find a forty-two year old and I couldn’t, because she had the face of hard work, that face that you see in so many women that have just had to work too hard and have never had a rest and have never had anyone to take care of them or tell them to put their feet up, and who have just, just worked too hard. Because, as I said on the radio a few years ago, this was slavery and I don’t use that term lightly and I’m not an emotive person but slavery is a form of work for which you get no pay and you can’t leave and these were the white slaves of Ireland and they were never emancipated. And nobody stood up for them until now, until you guys (Justice for Magdalenes) did.
Samantha Long was asked by Senator McAleese’s commission what she would like the State to do to redress any wrongs committed against the women in Magdalene Laundries. She answered:
I would like the state to apologise for keeping those young girls behind bars, literally and figuratively. I would like the church and state to apologise for forcing them to do slave labour.I would like the church, the state and society to redress their reputations and apologise for keeping them down, for denying them education, freedom, money, their babies and their lives, all of those things.
And I would like that the circumstances that they find themselves in, through the missing pieces that the rest of us get in life, because they had no education, so how could they make it?
They were sitting ducks, keep them down, keep them unaware of their rights, keep them without money, keep the roof over their head, feed them a little bit, keep them alive, just enough for work. Give them their wages now, give them their wages.
ARTANE: THE REAL TRUTH – This school was a concentration camp for little children where the Brothers destroyed us and nobody gave a damn.
ARTANE: THE REAL TRUTH – This school was a concentration camp for little children where the Brothers destroyed us and nobody gave a damn.
WHEN the Artane Boys’ Band performs before the All-Ireland football final on Sunday it will strike fear into the heart of Michael O’Brien.
The band is a constant reminder of the horrific physical and sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of the industrial school’s Christian Brothers.
And he’s joining other victims asking the band to play a hymn in their honour.
It would be a symbolic gesture for the men whose lives were torn apart by the sickening regime.
But it can never repair the damage that’s been done.
The Pope, the order of Christian Brothers and the government have apologised to the Artane boys.
But for many of the boys who became broken men that isn’t enough.
Now victims are breaking their silence because they want Ireland to know what went on behind closed doors.
Michael is one of hundreds of young boys systematically abused – both sexually and violently – by some of those charged with his care.
Already 270 men have made allegations against 160 Brothers in the biggest child sex abuse investigation Ireland has ever known.
Only now, 30 years after the school was razed to the ground, has Michael O’Brien found the strength to speak out.
JILLY BEATTIE tells his story.
FROM his first day at Artane Industrial School to the moment he left, Michael O’Brien lived in terror every minute of his life.
His tormentor-in-chief was Joseph O’Connor, a Christian Brother so evil Michael can barely speak his name today.
He said: “O’Connor was the most evil, depraved b****** that ever walked this land. I pray to God that he’s rotting in Hell now.
“When he was dying a few years ago, I went to his hospital bedside and watched him for three days and two nights until he died.
“I wanted to see him exhale his last breath. I wanted to know he couldn’t do what he’d done to me again.
“I wanted to see him die. I wanted to see him dead.
“And when his body was removed to the mortuary, I managed to get in and took the sheet off his face. I had to make sure it was him.
“It gave me no relief that he was dead because I couldn’t make him pay for what he did, but I needed to know he was gone.”
At 47, Michael still wakes screaming in the night, sheets saturated in sweat and his own urine.
That is what Artane did to him. That is how deep the harrowing memories of his time under Joe O’Connor’s brutal regime have left their terrible mark on him.
Michael was only five when he was put into the church’s care.
His mother, Bernadette, was labelled unfit after a house fire which killed his baby sister, Marian.
He never saw his mother again.
At first, Michael was looked after with his brother and another sister at the Golden Bridge holding centre in Dublin. Then nuns took care of them at St Kieran’s in Rathdrum.
It wasn’t perfect but he felt safe. At just nine years old, his life changed forever.
He was taken away from his sister and brother and packed off to Artane in the north side of Dublin.
He recalls: “I was one of four of boys who went on the train. We were excited by the journey but we’d no idea where we were going. We were lambs to the slaughter.”
It was at Connolly Station he came face to face with O’Connor for the first time – a man in his early fifties, dressed all in black.
Even though he was an innocent child, Michael knew instantly the Brother was evil.
He said: “There was no smile, no welcome, not even ‘hello’.
“He told us his name and the horror I felt when he spoke to us that first time is still with me.
“I knew the moment I saw him that he was bad – strong, fierce and bad.
“He asked if any of us could sing because he was in charge of the Artane Boys’ Band – he was marking his prey.
The children were young, vulnerable and nobody cared what happened to them. They were orphans, runaways or just schoolboys who had played truant.
Their few possessions were taken away and they were given a number instead of a name.
THEY were the lost boys who had no-one to turn to for help and the Brothers were free to treat them as they liked.
Michael explained: “There wasn’t a week that went past I didn’t suffer some sort of abuse. O’Connor was a monster.
“Artane means many things to me – being beaten, bloody, b******d and bruised.
“It was a concentration camp for children and no-one gave a damn. “The Brothers took our names and gave us numbers. Then they systematically destroyed us.
“It was the closest thing you could get to a concentration camp, except the number wasn’t stamped on our bodies, it was stamped into our brains.
“I wiped that memory a long time ago. I can’t, and don’t want to remember what my number was. But most former Artane boys can. Some of them can’t forget it no matter how they try.
“We were taken to a dormitory where there must have been about 150 beds, row after row.
“A Brother had a separate room inside the dormitory and we were watched over by monitors too, older boys who also later abused us.
“At night the Brother in charge would pace around the dormitory. “You could hear the skirts of his cassocks making a swishing sound as he walked.
“He would pick a boy out, literally drag him from his bed, rape and beat him in his room. Sometimes he would even rape him in the dorm for everyone to hear.
“No-one would open their eyes, no-one would make a sound. We all pretended to sleep through the noise and screams but we all heard what was going on.
“My only consolation was when someone else was getting raped, it wasn’t me.
“Everybody I’ve spoken to since felt the same.
“My heart would bang like mad as the Brother approached my bed. I held my breath. I’d be sure he would hear my heart beating and take me out for making so much noise.
“Like all the boys, I was desperate to be left alone. Then I would feel intense relief and guilt as another boy was dragged screaming from his bed.
IT happened every night for the five years that I was there. It happened every night without fail and there were plenty of times I was the boy who was dragged off.
“We were victims from the moment we walked through those doors. We were beaten, we were battered and we were b******d.
“All the Brothers carried a leather strap which they pummelled us with.
“Some of them inserted bits of metal into the tip and sewed it up to make it harder. One of the Brothers was called The Sheriff because he carried a strap in each pocket and would produce them like two pistols before he thrashed us.
“They used any excuse to beat us. Our shoes and clothes were inspected for wear and tear. We had to hold a boot upside down in each hand and a Brother would go along the line with chalk and circle any wear that needed repair.
“In my first few months I joined a line of about 15 boys who had been singled out because their boots needed work done to them.
“We were paraded into the boot room one at a time – that was where I had my first sexual experience.
“The Brother sat down on a bench and talked quietly to me about the need to take care of my belongings.
“I thought all the talk about them being b******s might be wrong because this fella seemed OK.
“I started talking to him but then he stroked my privates through my trousers. He talked all the while, gently and quietly about the need for consideration, talking about caring for other people. He told me I could come to him at any time with any problem.
“Then he told me told me to go and not to mention what had happened.
“I was the first into the boot room that day. There was a row of boys behind me who probably got the same treatment or worse.
“I walked away confused and upset. I couldn’t understand what had happened, what he meant or what he’d done. I felt ashamed and I didn’t really know why.
“Looking back, I realise the abuse was premeditated and systematic. The Brothers tested the boys for a reaction and picked on the ones who had no parents or family outside the school to turn to. The more vulnerable the boy, the more vicious the abuse.
“The next time the Brother who had touched me in the boot room spoke to me, he told me to go to his room. Then he made me take off my clothes and he tried to arouse me. I was 10 years old.
“I was confused and shocked. I started to cry and he leathered me and told me to stop crying, then he told me to go.
“It was a test to see if I would squeal to anyone about what had happened. He had told me not to talk to anyone about it and I was so terrified and ashamed that I didn’t. I didn’t talk to anyone about it for 30 years.
“Then I was forced to help a Brother commit an act in front of another boy. I was forced to have oral sex and he told me afterwards to rinse my mouth and teeth in cold water.
“Then he grabbed me and screamed at me to pray for forgiveness for tempting him like that. He held me in his arms, he rocked me and hit me and he prayed for forgiveness. “I was just one of 800 boys in there and it was happening all the time. The terror of being called or told to report to a Brother was indescribable. I’ve lived my entire life there with a knot in my stomach.
“One of the brothers hurt me so badly that he ruptured me inside. I was 11 years old.
“The day before he had taken me into his room, made me strip naked and had tied me to his bed with belts. He gagged me and left me there, naked, crying and choking. I was terrified. “I thought I was going to die. I was sure he would come back and kill me. I prayed for help. I prayed to get away. He came back about an hour later, but it felt like he’d been gone for days.
“He untied me, kicked me and told me to get dressed and say nothing to anyone.
“I thought it was a miracle I’d survived. I was happy. But the next day it happened again – only this time it was worse.
“He took me to his room and made me undress, all the while beating me, kicking me, hitting me off the walls and the furniture. “I was screaming but no-one came, no-one helped me.
“That time he bound and gagged me, then tied me face down on his bed and assaulted me.
“It was brutal. The pain was indescribable but I couldn’t scream because I was gagged. “Then suddenly there was blood everywhere. He panicked and tried to clean me up, but shouted and screamed at me for bleeding and making a scene. “He took me down to the infirmary which was run by another Brother who cleaned me up and put me to bed.
“I stayed there for four days until the bleeding stopped. But I was given no medical care. I wasn’t seen by a doctor because he would have wanted to know how the injury happened.
“I have no way to describe the terror I felt during that time and in the hours, days and months afterwards. I find it almost impossible to explain what happened to anyone today.
“The same brother attacked me again shortly afterwards but he’d done so much damage the first time that I bled very quickly again. He was furious and battered me, screaming that I was a worthless little b******, screaming that I’d made him do this.”
After abusing them, the Brothers told the boys it was their own fault and they should pray for forgiveness.
Michael explained: “He yelled that I’d tempted him, that I was an evil little piece of s*** and that I should pray for forgiveness for making him do what he did. He told me it was my fault. I believed him. I prayed for us in the middle of tears and snotters and blood. And was taken down to the infirmary again.
“We were told that we had to ask God for forgiveness for ‘badness’ – the word they used to excuse the rapes – that they blamed us for. We had no one to turn to and we were made to feel guilty for being bad boys and tempting the Brothers.
“These brothers were our guardians, they replaced the parents we had lost or been taken away from. They were meant to look after us, care for us and prepare us for life.
“We needed to be loved and nurtured – instead we were abused and tortured. We were just little boys, we were the human equivalent of blotting paper going into that place – blank sheets with no impressions. And then all that c**p, terror and abuse was imprinted onto us. It left us destroyed bundles of nerves and pain.
“We told no one about what happened. Boys who made confessions to the priest were beaten. We were too frightened to talk about it. We believed we’d be terrorised and we were frightened God would punish us if we were caught talking about it.
“After that I became invisible. I hid inside myself and stopped talking. I thought if I was invisible I wouldn’t get hurt. I was terrified and hiding was my only protection.
“But the abuse continued. I stayed silent, I became compliant. I stopped crying because I worked out that the Brothers would hit you until you stopped crying. I still don’t cry today. I broke down once in counselling a few months ago but that has been it.”
As with many of the boys, Michael started wetting the bed as a result of his trauma – and that meant more punishment and psychological abuse.
He explained: “The stress had to come out somewhere and I started to wet the bed again. I joined the group of boys known as The Slashers, the boys who soiled their sheets.
“We were made to strip our beds every morning and carry the sheets through the school, past hundreds of boys and the Brothers to the laundry rooms.
“We were laughed and shouted at, ridiculed and hit. We were ashamed and frightened. We were separated. We were just a bunch of nobodies who p***** the bed.
“I remember desperately trying to stay awake so I would make it to the loo before I peed the bed. But of course I fell asleep and the shame and terror I felt in the morning when I realised I was lying in wet sheets was awful.
“The abuse – physical, sexual and psychological – was part of every day life at Artane.
“The shock element of it wore off after a few years. As I got older I coped differently with it differently.
“It got to a stage where I would be thankful if I got called in by a Brother who I knew would just want sex.
“The ones who were violent as well as paedophiles were a bigger problem. But Joe Boy always tracked me down. That bastard beat me until I bled, he assaulted me, he rammed my head in a drawer and abused me while he slammed it.
“If a few days went past without anything happening it was brilliant, but I would get anxious because every day that I didn’t get hurt brought me closer to the day that I would.
“It was a way of life for those b*******. One of them even kept a tin of Vaseline in his pouch. In my last couple of years at Artane, the Brothers would give me and the older boys cigarettes as a sort of reward.
“They turned us into prostitutes. I became an expert in pleasing my abusers, we all did. The quicker you got it over with, the sooner they’d let you go.”
Michael said by the time he left Artane years of torment had turned him into an emotional zombie – unable of showing or receiving real affection.
He said: “By the time I was 13 I’d just closed down. It was like flicking a switch to turn off the emotion and at the time I thought it made the sex less of an ordeal.
“But my life has been a festering sore since the day I walked through the doors of Artane, suppurating, weeping and poisoned.
“I left that place with pounds 1 in my pocket and a word of advice from a Brother not to mention anything that had gone on behind the doors.
“I couldn’t read or write. I couldn’t even tell the time. I didn’t understand how men and women had relationships. It seemed ridiculous to me, it was the sort of thing giggled about at school.
“I knew sex was painful, dirty and secret. I knew sex with other men was called ‘badness’ but I didn’t know any other way. I knew that life was about getting hit and being hurt.
“That was the education the Brothers at Artane Industrial School gave me. And I was no different to the thousands of boys who came through the place.”
“Even now I still find myself making excuses for the Brothers who abused me, all of them except Joe Boy, Brother Joe O’Connor. “Because of him I tried to commit suicide twice. I have several failed relationships behind me and years of counselling ahead of me.”
And Michael has never married or had any children of his own.
Today he lives in a smart Dublin Quays apartment where there is little hint of his tortured past until he starts to talk about his school days.
He said: “I kept what happened to me bottled up for 30 years. Like every other Artane boy, I felt terrible shame and blamed myself for what happened.”
But Brother O’Connor’s death triggered so many memories and so much pain in Michael’s life that he tried to kill himself.
Only in the last 16 months has he finally started to talk about the appalling abuse he suffered. Only now is his regret that his two suicide attempts failed beginning to fade.
He said: “Only in the last few months, since I’ve been able to talk about this, has the knot started to loosen.
“I, and possibly thousands of other former Artane boys, will never be free from this. But we have to learn how to live with what was done to us.”
He explained: “The first time I was hugged by someone in a genuine show of affection, I was 36. I didn’t know there was such a thing and today I still find it difficult to have physical contact with anyone. Giving someone a hug takes effort. It feels strange.
“That’s what those b******* did to me. They turned me into a social and emotional mess with no idea of how to sustain a loving relationship.”
Now as Secretary of the Alliance for Healing of Institutional Abuse, Michael is determined to show his abusers to the world.
He wants to make them pay for the terror he experienced during his stay between 1962 and 1967 and thousands of other boys suffered at Artane from the 1940s until the building was razed to the ground in 1969.
He said: “They can never give us back what they took from us – but we need justice. We need more than an apology for the things we suffered. I want to live now. I want a life and I can’t have it unless I get some peace of mind.”
Michael O’Brien can be contacted at the Alliance for Healing of Institutional Abuse on 01-825-2353.
HOW SURVIVORS HAVE CHANGED HISTORY by Thomas P.Doyle, O.P.
Set forth below is Fr. Thomas P. Doyle, O.P.’s extremely important address on August 2, 2014 at SNAP’s 25th Anniversary Convention in Chicago.
A letter sent by the Vicar General of the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana to the papal nuncio in June, 1984, was the trigger that set in motion a series of events that has changed the fate of the victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and clergy of all denominations. The letter informed the nuncio that the Gastel family had decided to withdraw from a confidential monetary settlement with the diocese. It went on to say they had obtained the services of an attorney and planned to sue the diocese.
This long process has had a direct impact on much more than the fate of victims and the security of innocent children and vulnerable persons of any age. It has altered the image and role of the institutional Catholic Church in western society to such an extent that the tectonic plates upon which this Church rests have shifted in a way never expected or dreamed of thirty years ago.
I cannot find language that can adequately communicate the full import of this monstrous phenomenon. The image of a Christian Church that enabled the sexual and spiritual violation of its most vulnerable members and when confronted, responded with institutionalized mendacity and utter disregard for the victims cannot be adequately described as a “problem,” a “crisis” or a “scandal.” The widespread sexual violation of children and adults by clergy and the horrific response of the leadership, especially the bishops, is the present-day manifestation of a very dark and toxic dimension of the institutional Church. This dark side has always existed. In our era it has served as the catalyst for a complex and deeply rooted process that can be best described as a paradigm shift. The paradigm for responding to sexual abuse by clergy has shifted at its foundation. The paradigm for society’s understanding of and response to child sexual abuse had begun to shift with the advent of the feminist movement in the early seventies but was significantly accelerated by the mid-eighties. The paradigm of the institutional Church interacting in society has shifted and continues to do so as the forces demanding justice, honesty and accountability by the hierarchy continue their relentless pressure. The Catholic monolith, once accepted by friend and foe alike as a rock-solid monarchy, is crumbling.
The single most influential and forceful element in this complex historical process has not been the second Vatican Council. It has been the action of the victims of sexual abuse.
There are a few of us still standing who have been in the midst of this mind and soul-boggling phenomenon from the beginning of the present era. We have been caught up and driven by the seemingly never-ending chain of events, revelations, and explosions that have marked it from the very beginning and will continue to mark it into the future.
It has had a profound impact on the belief systems and the spirituality of many directly and indirectly involved. My own confidence and trust in the institutional church has been shattered. I have spent years trying to process what has been happening to the spiritual dimension of my life. The vast enormity of a deeply ingrained clerical culture that allowed the sexual violation of the innocent and most vulnerable has overshadowed the theological, historical and cultural supports upon which the institutional Church has based its claim to divinely favored status. All of the theological and canonical truths I had depended upon have been dissipated to meaninglessness.
Some of us who have supported victims have been accused of being dissenters from orthodox church teaching. We have been accused of being anti-Catholic, using the sexual abuse issue to promote active disagreement with Church positions on various sexual issues. These accusations are complete nonsense. This is not a matter of dissent or agreement with Church teachings. It is about the sexual violations of countless victims by trusted Church members. It is not a matter of anti-Catholic propaganda but direct opposition to Church leaders, policies or practices that enable the perpetrators of sexual abuse and demonize the victims. It is not a matter of defaming the Church’s image. No one has done a better job of that than the bishops themselves.
For some of us the very concept of a personal or anthropocentric god has also been destroyed, in great part by an unanswerable question: If there is a loving god watching over us, why does he allow his priests and bishops to violate the bodies and destroy the souls of so many innocent children?”
Those of us who have been in twelve step movements are familiar with the usual format recommended for speakers: we base our stories on a three-part outline – what it was like before, what happened, and what it is like now. This is the format I want to use as I look back on thirty years and try to describe where I think we have been and where we are going. Much to the chagrin of the hard-core cheerleaders for the institutional Church, there is no question that the victims and survivors of the Church’s sexual abuse and spiritual treachery have set in motion a process that has changed and will continue to change the history of the Catholic Church. The Catholic experience has prompted members of other denominations to acknowledge sexual abuse in their midst and demand accountability. It has also forever altered the response of secular society to the once untouchable Churches.
What It Was Like Before.
The basic facts need no elaboration. The default response to a report of child, adolescent or adult sexual abuse was first to enshroud it in an impenetrable blanket of secrecy. The perpetrator was shifted to another assignment. The victim was intimidated into silence. The media knew nothing and if law enforcement of civil officials were involved, they deferred to the bishop “for the good of the Church.”
A small number of perpetrators were sent to special church-run institutions that treated them in secrecy and in many instances, released them to re-enter ministry. The founder of the most influential of these, Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, firmly believed that no priest who had violated a child or minor should ever be allowed back in ministry and should be dismissed from the priesthood. He made his unequivocal beliefs known to bishops, to the prefect of the Holy Office (1962) and to Pope Paul VI in a private audience in 1963. He was ignored.
The Lafayette case involving Gilbert Gauthe was the beginning of the end of the default template. I suspect that none of the major players in the case had any idea of the magnitude of what they were involved in. I was one of them and I certainly could never have imagined how this would all play out.
The Lafayette case sparked attention because of the systemic cover-up that had gone on from before Gilbert Gauthe was ordained and continued past his conviction and imprisonment (see In God’s House, a novel by Ray Mouton, based on the events of this case). Jason Berry was singlehandedly responsible for opening up the full extent of the ecclesiastical treachery to the public. Other secular media followed suit. The story was picked up by the national media and before long other reports of sexual abuse by priests were coming in from parishes and dioceses not only in the deep south but in other parts of the country (Required reading! Lead Us Not Into Temptation by Jason Berry).
The report or manual, authored by Ray Mouton, Mike Peterson and I, is the result of our belief that the bishops didn’t know how to proceed when faced with actual cases of sexual violation and rape by priests. Many of the bishops I spoke to at the time admitted they were bewildered about what to do. None expected the series of explosions that were waiting just over the horizon. I asked several if a document or short manual of some sort would help and the responses were uniformly affirmative. Some of the bishops I consulted with were men I had grown to respect and trust. I believed they would support whatever efforts we suggested to deal with the developing, potentially explosive situation. Peterson, Mouton and I did not see it as an isolated, one-time “problem.” Rather, we saw it is as a highly toxic practice of the clerical culture that needed to be recognized and rectified.
Some of the men I consulted with and to whom I turned for support and guidance, in time became major players in the national nightmare. The two most prominent were Bernard Law and Anthony Bevilacqua, both men whom I once counted as friends.
It was not long before I realized that the major force of opposition was the central leadership of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the General Secretariat in particular. We had initially hoped the Bishops’ conference would look at the manual and consider the action proposals that accompanied it. The main blockage was, I believe, at the level of the general secretariat and the executive leadership. It was bad enough that they simply ignored the effort to help but they delivered a serious blow to their credibility when they made public statements to the effect that they knew everything that was in the manual and already had programs and protocols in place. When questioned by the media about this they were forced to admit that these protocols and policies were not written down.
Throughout this period the three of us were hopeful that the opposition was not representative of the entire hierarchical leadership. We wanted to believe that the pushback from the Conference was the reaction of a small group and that it was based on a turf battle between the Bishops Conference and the Papal nuncio. Our realization that the reactionary attitude was more extensive began when the bishops, through the office of the general council, publicly accused Mouton, Peterson and I of creating the manual and the making the recommended action proposals because we saw the growing problem as a potential source of profit and hoped to sell our services to the various dioceses. At this point the three of us had to accept the painful reality that episcopal leadership was far more interested in their own image and power than in the welfare of the victims. It was becoming very clear that in the Church we were trying to help, integrity was a scarce commodity.
At the recent Vatican celebrations for Saint John XXIII and former pope John Paul II, George Weigel and Joaquin Navarro-Valls created an outrageous fantasy about the role of John Paul II, claiming that he knew nothing until after the 2002 Boston debacle. This was a blatant lie. John Paul II was given a 42 page detailed report on the sex abuse and cover-up in Lafayette LA during the last week of February 1985. It was sent as justification for the request from the papal nuncio that a bishop be appointed to go to Lafayette to try to find out exactly what was going on. The report was carried to Rome by Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia precisely because the nuncio wanted it to go directly to the pope and not be sidetracked by lower level functionaries. The pope read the report and within four days the requested appointment came through. The bishop in question was the late A.J. Quinn of Cleveland who turned out to be a big part of the problem rather than a part of the solution.
Quinn visited Lafayette two times and accomplished nothing. We were suspicious of his intentions by the end of 1985 and quite certain by 1986. In 1988 he wrote to the nuncio: “The truth is, Doyle and Mouton want the Church in the United States to purchase their expensive and controvertible leadership in matters relating to pedophilia…The Church has weathered worse attacks…So too will the pedophile annoyance eventually abate.” (Quinn to Laghi, Jan. 8, 1988). Archbishop Laghi didn’t buy it, evident from his cover letter to me: “While I do not subscribe to the conclusions drawn in this correspondence, I want you to know of some of the sentiments expressed in some quarters…” (Laghi to Doyle, Jan. 18, 1988). In 1990 Quinn addressed the Canon Law Society of America and advised that if bishops found information in priests’ files they did not want seen they should send the files to the papal nuncio to be shielded by diplomatic immunity. Quinn, a civil lawyer as well as a canon lawyer, was then subjected to disbarment proceedings as a result of his unethical suggestion.
The papal nuncio, the late Cardinal Pio Laghi, was supportive of our efforts and was in regular telephone contact with the Vatican. There were very few actual written reports sent over although all of the media stories we received were transmitted to the Holy See. Cardinal Silvio Oddi, then the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, visited the nunciature in June and asked to be briefed. I was deputed for the task. By then we had more information on the rapidly growing number of cases in all parts of the country. I recall that by that time we were aware of 42 cases, which I naively thought was a very significant number. I prepared a lengthy report that was not only detailed but also graphic in its content. I read the report to the cardinal and responded to his many questions. At the end of the meeting at which only he and I were present, he announced that he would take this information back to the Holy Father. “Then there will be a meeting of the heads of all the dicasteries [Vatican congregations] and we will issue a decree.” I understand that he did take the information to the pope but there never was a meeting of the heads and no decree ever came forth.
Our efforts to get the bishops’ conference to even consider the issues we set forth in our manual, much less take decisive action, were a total failure. Looking back from the perspective of thirty years direct experience, I believe they acted in the only way they knew how which was completely self-serving with scandalous lack of sympathy for the victims and their families. There were individual bishops who were open to exploring the right way to proceed but the conference, which represented all of the bishops, was interested in controlling the fallout and preserving their stature and their power.
We sent individual copies of the manual to every bishop in the U.S. on December 8, 1985. By then we still had hope that perhaps someone would read it and stand up at the conference meetings and call the bishops’ attention to what we had insisted was the most important element, namely the compassionate care of the victims.
In October 1986 Mike Peterson had flown to the Vatican to speak with officials at the Congregation for Religious and the Congregation for Clergy. He was in a better position than anyone else to expose this issue to them because he knew how serious and extensive the problem of sexually dysfunctional priests was from his experience as director of St. Luke Institute. He returned from Rome dejected, angry and discouraged. I remember picking him up at the airport and going to dinner. They not only were not interested but brushed his concerns off as an exaggeration of a non-problem. Mike was willing to keep trying with the American bishops. He arranged for a hospitality suite at the hotel where the bishops were having their annual November meeting. He invited every bishop to come and discuss the matter of sexual abuse of minors by the clergy. There were over three hundred bishops present. Eight showed up.
Between 1986 and 2002 there were several important developments in the unfolding history of clergy sexual abuse. I would like to mention a few that influenced the historical process.
1. The bishops addressed the issue secretly in their annual meetings. The direction was consistent: defense of the dioceses and the bishops. There was never any mention of care for the victims.
2. The media continued to cover the issue from coast to coast generally showing sympathy for the victims and outrage at the Church’s systemic cover-up.
3. Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to the US bishops in June 1993 which clearly revealed his attitude.
4. The bishops formed a committee in 1993 and produced a four-volume handbook. The handbook and the committee had no appreciable impact.
5. There were increasing cases of sexual abuse brought before the civil courts. There were also several very public explosions during this period: the Thomas Adamson related cases in St. Paul; St. Anthony Seminary, Santa Barbara CA; St. Lawrence Seminary, Mt. Calvary WI; Fr. James Porter, Massachusetts; the Rudy Kos trial, Dallas, 1997. None of these jarred the bishops loose from their arrogant, defensive position and none served as a sufficient wake-up call for the broad base of lay support for the bishops.
6. The “problem” which John Paul II declared was unique to the United States, was amplified in other countries: Mt. Cashel, St. John’s Newfoundland, 1989; Brendan Smyth and the fall of the Irish government in December 1994; the exposure and forced resignation of Hans Cardinal Groer, archbishop of Vienna, September 1995. So much for the U.S. as the scapegoat!
7. SNAP was founded by Barbara Blaine and The Linkup by Jeanne Miller in 1989.
8. The first gathering of clergy abuse victims took place in Arlington IL in October 1992, sponsored by the Linkup. The main speakers were Jason Berry, Richard Sipe, Andrew Greeley, Jeff Anderson and Tom Doyle.
9. In 1999 John Paul II ordered the canonical process against Marcial Maciel-Degollado, founder and supreme leader of the Legion of Christ, shelved. In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged the truth of Maciel’s crimes against minors and removed him from ministry. In 2009 the Vatican announced that Maciel had led a double life, having six possible children with two women.
The pope made a total of 11 public statements about clergy sexual abuse between 1993 and his death in 2005. The letters showed little comprehension of the horrific nature of the problem and no acknowledgement of the bishops’ enabling role. The culprits were, in the pope’s eyes, secular materialism, media sensationalism and sinful priests. He never even acknowledged much less responded to the thousands of requests from individual victims.
The U.S. bishops issued a handful of press releases and a number of intramural statements, most of which came from the office of the General Council. To their credit their general counsel sent out a memo to all bishops in 1988 which contained suggested actions which, had they not been ignored by the bishops, might have made a significant difference.
The bishops’ approach in the U.S. and elsewhere followed a standard evolutionary process: denial, minimization, blame shifting and devaluation of challengers. The bishop’s carefully scripted apologies expressed their regret for the pain suffered. Never once did they apologize for what they had done to harm the victims. Likewise there was never any concern voiced by the Vatican or the bishops’ conference about the spiritual and emotional damage done to the victims by the abuse itself and by the betrayal by the hierarchy. It became clear by the end of the nineties that the problem was not simply recalcitrant bishops. It was much more fundamental. The barrier to doing the right thing was deeply embedded in the clerical culture itself.
January 6, 2002 stands out as a pivotal date in the evolution of the clergy abuse phenomenon. The Boston revelations had an immediate and lasting impact that surprised even the most cynical. I was not surprised by the stories because I had been in conversations first with Kristin Lombardi who wrote a series based on the same facts for the Boston Phoenix in March 2001 and later with the Globe Spotlight Team. The continuous stream of media stories of what the bishops had been doing in Boston and elsewhere provoked widespread public outrage.
The bishops’ cover-up of sexual abuse and the impact on victims were the subject of special reports by all of the major news networks and countless stories in the print media. Newsweek, Time, U.S. News and World Report and the Economist all published cover stories about the “scandal.” The number of lawsuits dramatically increased and the protective deference on the part of law enforcement and civil officials, once counted on by the clerical leadership, was rapidly eroding. Grand jury investigations were launched in three jurisdictions within two months with several more to follow. It was all too much for the bishops to handle. They could not control it. They could not ignore it and they could not minimize it or make it go away.
The most visible result of the many-sided pressure on the hierarchy was the Dallas meeting. This was not a proactive pastorally sensitive gesture on the part of the bishops. It was defensive damage control, choreographed by the public relations firm of R.F. Binder associates. The meeting included addresses by several victim/survivors (David Clohessy, Michael Bland, Craig Martin, Paula Rohbacker), a clinical psychologist (Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea), a lay theologian (Scott Appleby), a Catholic author (Margaret O’Brien Steinfels). The tangible result of the meeting was the Charter for the Protection of Young People and the Essential Norms. The impact of Charter and the Norms has clearly been mixed. The lofty rhetoric of the bishops in the charter has not been followed up with action, to no one’s surprise.
The Essential Norms have not been uniformly and consistently followed. As proof we can look to the steady number of exceptions from 2002 whereby known perpetrators are either allowed to remain in ministry or are put back in ministry. The National Review Board showed promise at the beginning, especially after the publication of its extensive report in 2004. This promise sputtered and died as the truly effective members of the board left when they realized the bishops weren’t serious, and were replaced by others who essentially did nothing but hold positions on an impotent administrative entity that served primarily as an unsuccessful public relations effort to support the bishops’ claim that they were doing something.
Sexual violation of minors by clerics of all ranks has been part of the institution and the clerical culture since the days of the primitive Christian communities. Over the centuries the stratified model of the Church, with the clergy in the dominant role and the laity relegated to passive obedience, has held firm and allowed the hierarchy to maintain control over the issue of sexually dysfunctional clerics who, by the way, have ranged from sub-deacons to popes.
The paradigm shift, evident in the institutional Church since the years leading up to Vatican Council II, laid the foundation for a radically different response in the present era. The victim/survivors, their supporters and the secular society have shaped and guided the direction and evolution of the clergy sexual abuse nightmare. The Vatican and the bishops throughout the world have remained on the defensive and have never been able to gain any semblance of control. Those very few bishops who have publicly sided with the survivors have been marginalized and punished. The general response has been limited to the well-tuned rhetoric of public statements, sponsorship of a variety of child-safety programs, constant promises of change and enlightenment and above all, the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in attorneys who have used every tactic imaginable and many that are not imaginable to defeat and discredit victims and prevent their clients from being held accountable. The apologetic public statements, filled with regret and assurances of a better tomorrow, are worthless from the get-go, rendered irrelevant and insulting by the harsh reality of the brutal tactics of the bishops’ attack dogs.
While the institutional Church has essentially remained in neutral, various segments of civil society have reacted decisively. Between 1971 and 2013 there have been at least 72 major reports issued about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The early reports (three in the seventies) were about sexual dysfunction in general among the clergy but since 1985 they have been about sexual abuse of minors. Some of these have been commissioned by official bodies and are the result of extensive investigations such as the U.S. Grand Jury reports, the Belgian Parliamentary Report and the Irish Investigation Commission Reports. They come from several countries in North America and Europe. A study of the sections on causality has shown a common denominator: the deliberately inadequate and counter-productive responses and actions of the bishops.
The unfolding of the events in this contemporary era can be divided into three phases: the first begins in 1984 and culminates at the end of 2001. The second begins with the Boston revelations and extends to the beginning of 2010. The present phase began in March 2010 when the case of Lawrence Murphy of Milwaukee revealed that the Vatican was directly connected to the cover-up. In this case, in spite of the pleas of an archbishop (Weakland) and two bishops (Fliss and Sklba) that Murphy, who had violated at least 200 deaf boys, by laicized, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with Ratzinger as Prefect, refused. Instead, he allowed the culprit to live out his days as a priest.
The three phases are arbitrary demarcation points based on the level of exposure of the Church’s true policies and actions. The difference is only in the depth and extent of information discovered about the bishops’ responses to decades of reports of sexual violation by clerics.
In 1993 and 1994 Pope John Paul II attempted to persuade the world that sexual abuse by clergy was an American problem, caused primarily by media exaggerations, materialism and failure to pray. At the conclusion of his first public statement on sexual abuse, a 1993 letter to the U.S. bishops, he said, “Yes dear brothers, America needs much prayer lest it lose its soul.” It is ironic that this comment came from the leader of an organization that had not so much lost but gave up its soul. By 2014 there was no doubt anywhere that geographic boundaries are irrelevant. This highly toxic dimension of the institutional Church and its clerical sub culture has been exposed in country after country on every continent except Antarctica, where there are no bishops, no priests, and no minors. The presence of God is found in a few scientists, some U.S. military and a lot of penguins.
The focus had finally shifted to the Vatican. In September 2011 the Center for Constitutional Rights assisted in the filing of a case before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In January 2014 the U.N. Commission on the Rights of the Child delivered a blistering criticism of the Vatican’s response to sexual abuse by clerics. In May 2014 the U.N. Commission on Torture issued a report equally critical of the Vatican’s handling of sexual abuse claims and its opposition to U.N. policies. This is truly momentous. The world’s largest religious denomination has been called to account by the community of nations.
What Its Like Now
The foregoing paragraphs have provided a sparse but factually correct description of the second element of the 12 Step presentation, “What Happened.” Now I would like to shift the focus to “What Its Like Now.” Any conclusions at this point, thirty years later, are obviously very temporary since this is not the end of the issue but simply a milestone along the way.
I’d like to summarize by asserting that in spite of all that has happened since 1984, I do not believe there has been any fundamental change in the hierarchy. It may be true that individual bishops have either changed or have been compassionately supportive all along but in general the hierarchy is behaving today just as it did in 1985. The dramatic events in St. Paul-Minneapolis are the latest example of this intransigence. After all that has been revealed over these thirty years, one would think that the constant exposure of the official Church’s duplicity and dishonesty as well as the vast amount of information we have about the destructive effects of sexual abuse on the victims and their families, would cause some substantial change in attitude, direction and behavior. The bishops and even the pope have claimed they have done more to protect children than any other organization. There may be some validity to this claim but what is also true is that there has not been a single policy, protocol or program that was not forced on them. In 30 years they have not taken a single proactive move to assist victims or extend any semblance of compassionate pastoral care. Programs and policies promoting awareness or mandating background checks do nothing for the hundreds of thousands of suffering victims. The bishops as a group have done nothing for them either because they will not or more probably because they cannot.
There seems to be little sense in continuing to demand that bishops change their attitudes or at least their behavior. We have been beating our heads against the wall for a quarter of a century and the best we can hope for is that the sound will reverberate somewhere out in the Cosmos and eventually cause a stir before the end of time or the Second Coming, whichever comes first.
The institutional Church’s abject failure has revealed fundamental deficiencies in essential areas, all of which have been directly instrumental in perpetrating and sustaining the tragic culture of abuse:
1. The erroneous belief that the monarchical governmental structure of the Church was intended by god and justifies the sacrifice of innocent victims “
2. The belief that priests and bishops are superior to lay persons, entitled to power and deference because they are ontologically different and uniquely joined to Christ.
3. A lay spirituality that is dependent on the clergy and gauged by the degree of submission to them and unquestioned obedience to all church laws and authority figures.
4. An obsession with doctrinal orthodoxy and theological formulations that bypasses the realities of human life and replaces mercy and charity as central Catholic values.
5. An understanding of human sexuality that is not grounded in the reality of the human person but in a bizarre theological tradition that originated with the pre-Christian stoics and was originally formulated by celibate males of questionable psychological stability.
6. The clerical subculture that has propagated the virus of clericalism, which has perpetuated a severely distorted value system that has influenced clergy and laity alike.
Has Pope Francis brought a new ray of hope? I believe he is a significantly different kind of pope but he is still a product of the monarchical system and he is still surrounded by a bureaucracy that could hinder or destroy any hopes for the radical change that is needed if the institutional Church is to rise about the sex abuse nightmare and become what it is supposed to be, the People of God. The victims and indeed the entire Church are tired of the endless stream of empty statements and unfulfilled promises. The time for apologies, expressions of regret and assurances of change is long gone. Action is needed and without it the pope and bishops today will simply be more names in the long line of hierarchs who have failed the victims and failed the church.
I believe there is reason to hope, not because of the engaging personality of Pope Francis. This pope’s overtures to victims are grounded on three decades of courageous efforts by survivors. Without these efforts nothing would have changed. Survivors have changed the course of history for the Church and have accelerated the paradigm shift. If the Catholic Church is to be known not as a gilded monarchy of increasing irrelevance but as the People of God, the change in direction hinted at by the new pope’s words and actions are crucial and if he does lead the way to a new image of the Body of Chris it will be due in great part because the survivors have led the way for him.
Thomas P. Doyle, J.C.D., C.D.A.C.
Annual SNAP Conference, Chicago, Illinois
August 2, 2014
Cardinal George Pell backs Vatican over dealings with abuse victims
- Herald Sun
- August 21, 2014
From the Link: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/cardinal-george-pell-backs-vatican-over-dealings-with-abuse-victims/story-fni0fee2-1227032175413?sv=6abf015f21205d06311103e05f9b1614&nk=7a95cce4e928348f27a4e9b21b943770
CARDINAL George Pell last night backed the Vatican over victims of sexual abuse saying it was unreasonable for the Royal Commission to request papal documents regarding every case of abusive clergy.
Giving evidence to the abuse royal commission via videolink from Rome Cardinal Pell said the Vatican was right to refuse to release papal documents relating to every abuse case involving an Austrlian cleric. Describing those documents as “internal working documents of another sovereign state” Cardinal Pell said the Church had provided 5000 pages of documents which he deemed sufficient.
In a letter to the commission in July Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin refused a request by commissioner Justice Peter McClellan for documents with respect to “each case” of clerical abuse.
He said the Commission wanted to understand the extent to which Australian clerics accused of child sexual abuse had been referred to the Holy See. The Cardinal outraged victims by admitting he hadn’t been following the Royal Commission because he had been busy in Rome.
The comments sparked audible gasps from victims who had turned out to watch his evidence.
During almost three hours of testimony he was forced to defend claims he acted disingenuosly when dealing with victims.
He was also forced to reject suggestions he sought to protect the Church’s finances instead of helping victims.
“My primary concern was to try to help the victims,” Cardinal Pell said. “I have been wrestling with the problem for 18 years.”
Cardinal Pell introduced the Melbourne Response to deal with complaints of sexual abuse in 1996 just months after being appointed Archbishop of Melbourne.
He said he knew he had to act to deal with the suffering of dozens of sexual abuse victims.
“There was evidence that something needed to be done to deal with the suffering,” he said.
“It was felt this compensation panel was only one arm of the appraoch, to lessen suffering and to help these people and to do it quickly rather than have it drag on forever.
“We fully accepted our moral responsibilty towards those who had suffered”. He said he never anticipated the volume of complaints against paedophile priests when he launched the program.
Almost 20 years after its inception more than 300 victims of sexual abuse have been paid more than $17 million through the Melbourne Response scheme. But it has been heavily criticised for discouraging victims from going to police about their abuse.
Cardinal Pell admitted the structure of the church made it difficult for victims to seek compensation through the courts.
He said victims of sexual abuse had two choices: take a maximum church payout of $50,000 or risk getting nothing.
“Many of the peole we helped through the compensation panel would have received nothing or very little after going through thte courts,” he said. “Some certainly would have received more. They were free to choose whether they entered into our compensation system, knowing there was a $50,000 cap or go through the courts.
“We only did what other comparable groups did or paid.
“Certainly I myself and the members of that compensation panel were aware of the contemporary standards of compensation then and our record shows we were ahead of the curve.”
The church considered creating a legal entity in 1996 that could be sued by victims, but designed the Melbourne Response compensation scheme instead which limited payouts to victims to $50,000 that later increased to $75,000. Cardinal Pell told the royal commission earlier this year he believed the church should now create an entity that could be sued.
In 2007 the New South Wales Appeals Court ruled the Church could not be held liable for the conduct of its priests.
It also ruled it could not be sued.
Victims have, on average, received $33,000 from the Melbourne archdiocese, while those who pursued independent actions received, on average, $293,000. The Melbourne Response was one of the global Church’s first schemes to offer redress to victims of paedophile priests.
Cardinal George Pell to give evidence at child sex abuse inquiry
Pell was archbishop of Melbourne when the church set up the Melbourne Response compensation scheme
- theguardian.com, Wednesday 20 August 2014 18.20 EDT
Cardinal George Pell’s role in setting up a Catholic Church compensation scheme for victims of pedophile priests will be scrutinised on Thursday at the child abuse royal commission.
Pell was archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 when the Melbourne archdiocese decided to respond to growing allegations of child sex abuse by its clergy. The church considered creating a legal entity that could be sued by victims, but designed the Melbourne Response compensation scheme instead.
Cardinal Pell told the royal commission earlier this year he believed the church should now create an entity that could be sued.
A Victorian parliamentary inquiry last year recommended the Catholic Church be incorporated so it could be sued.
Melbourne archdiocese lawyer Richard Leder said the church’s position had shifted due to a better understanding of the extent of clergy sexual abuse.
“[It is] the sheer number of victims, but [also] a much greater understanding of the long-term effects of abuse,” Leder told the commission on Wednesday.
Cardinal Pell, now working in the Vatican, will give evidence via video-link from Rome at 4pm on Thursday.